Tobold's Blog
Saturday, September 25, 2010
Civilization V first impressions

Civ 5 was finally available in Europe yesterday on Steam. In spite of being a Civ veteran, I first did the 5 small tutorial missions (the third one is tricky until you realize you need to build a palace in Rome), and the 1 player against 1 AI tutorial game. Now I'm on my first "real" game, with 6 players and 12 city states.

Up to now everything is running fine, and you quickly get sucked into the old "one more turn" flow. The new combat system takes getting used to, but is superior to the old system in my opinion. I also like the new hex-grid much better than the old square grids. I very much appreciate the mix of "this is still Civilization" and the various changes and new features.

Sometimes the game seems to slow down a bit, even on my relatively powerful PC. And I'm somewhat annoyed that the game setup menu doesn't appear to save settings, so every time you start a game you need to manually set all your favorite settings again. But apart from that I'm quite happy with the game. Recommended!
I'm glad to hear you like it. I have bought all the Civs so far (yes, even Call to Power...), and they're always held me for a while.

Unfortunately, it's been shorter and shorter with every iteration. I think there have been two reasons for that.

First, the game design sort of encourages that you play Big™, with a huge map and myriad opponents. That's also the most fun in the early game, allowing exploration of vast unknown tracts, local conflicts etc. Unfortunately, once you roll past, say, 1100 AD the game usually becomes unmanageable and very, very slow. I appreciate that this is really my own fault, of course!

The second problem has been the AI, the fact that the AI at higher levels really isn't any "better" it just makes five catapults instead of one etc.

Now, I understand that the game no longer allows stacking of units. That leads me to believe that perhaps both of these problems is being addressed in a single stroke. If fewer units can be involved in any given attack/conflict, then management becomes easier, and AI numbers would not really be useful when boosted (except, I suppose, that they'll still have a gazillion phalanxes defending their cities...)

Have you seen these issues previously, and can you notice a difference in Civ V?
It won't save your settings?

See if you can find the file that the settings should be saved in and check that it's not read-only. I ran into that with another game, where the install decided to make the settings files read-only so that the game could not save any changes I made.

Just a thought.
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AARGH! I can't seem to escape this at the moment. I want Civ 5 but I can't have it for two reasons:

1) my gaming machine is fubar'd atm and I'm waiting for a new power supply to arrive so I can determine if its just that or if the Mobo has gone as well.
2)$60 is a touch steep, especially for a digital distribution. I'm pretty sure they're only charging that because they know people will pay it. Market forces can be pretty cynical sometimes.

Glad you're enjoying it though, I hope to enjoy it myself at some unspecified point in the future.
This may seem weird, but I'm not sure I would enjoy Civ.... I'm not entirely clear on how the game works, and even watching videos etc., has not provided enough info to decide to get the game or not.

How do the negotiations work? One of my favorite RPGs was Persona on the Playstation, and the reason was that a good deal of enemies could be bargained with instead of just killing them all off.

The combat looks good, and reminds me of advanced wars (each unit occupies its own square).

I heard the AI is not that good, do you play it against AI only, or do you play it online against other people?
I've been thoroughly enjoying Civ V myself. I've also noticed the occasional slowdown on my super beefy machine. Even with quad SLI I get the occasional crawl, which makes me wonder if it's just hitting my processor too hard.

The no stacking of units is actually quite the godsend for both strategic reasons, and speeding up gameplay. Even in your own city you cannot have more than one unit defending it. Makes setting up defenses and attacks on cities that much more thoughtful, that and even a city with no units isn't undefended! Cities have their own built-in defenses now.

The AI still maxes out at Noble difficulty, as in previous civs, and starts "cheating" (getting extra resources) at higher difficulties. Haven't heard much about how good or bad the AI is yet.

The game is a turn-based strategy game. The idea is that you start off your empire with a single city, and begin to build outward, producing new cities, new military forces, upgrading your cities economically as well as militaristically. During the game you deal with the idea of exploring your world, interacting with other civilizations, improving your own civilization through building and research, and finally trying to win the game. Winning can be militaristic (capture everyone else's capitals), or you can choose an economic victory, science victory (make your spaceship first to colonize other worlds), social victory (make your civilization incredibly advanced through different social policies), or diplomatic victory (get elected the ruler of the world through the UN).

In terms of interacting with other NPC civilizations, once you meet them you can begin diplomatic relations with them. Each ruler has different personalities and so sometimes you can't always end the negotiations amicably. It generally boils down to either demanding something from them (stop settling too close to my cities, or give me these units or this money), trading (Give me these luxury resources and I'll give you this one, or money), making pacts (from peace, to alliances, secret or otherwise), and of course you can declare war on them.

Because of the different victory types, you don't *have* to kill your neighbours, but sometimes depending on the civ they may be more or less unreasonable. Plus there's other NPC cities called "City states" which don't want to win the game, but you get bonuses for allying with them, which provides another dynamic with the AI.

Finally, yes, there is multiplayer. Considering a single game can take upwards of 6 hours on a smaller map, be prepared to either have multiple sessions or one big one on a weekend.
You really should finish a few games before giving a review...I'm guessing like me you like the idea of the hex.. BUT you havnt come across the many many ways it has been poorly implemented and just doesnt = fun. There is a reason a mod came out on release day to do away with it.

Your review is also missing mention about the Steam/DLC distribution system which while you may enjoy some of your readers may not.

CiV 5 is a very simplified version of Civ 4..many people are calling it a console port..but my guess is that like starcraft 2, they've just held back major features of the game so they can sell them to your later.
If you live in the US (and maybe a few other regions) you can get Civ 5 for only $39 this weekend from with the code code 'IGNDEAL' so if price is whats been holding you back then nows your chance.
Thanks for the recommendation. I was thinking about getting it myself actually considering it seems to be a bit of a slow period of MMOs at the moment.
"You really should finish a few games before giving a review..."


Just maybe.

That's the reason he titled this post "first impressions" and made a point of disclosing just how much of the game he's participated in.

This was by no means a "review", which is rather obvious in the text.
First impressions still imply a greater field of experience than 1 tutorial. And he recommends it. Implying hes seen enough. I'll bet 5 widgets in 2 weeks time he'll write a retraction. It does have that just one turn thing but once the honeymoon period is over..the problems start to stick out..ever try to take a city on an isthmus?

And to the D2D ad person...Direct2Drive has a horrid rep because they sometime add their own DRM software, requiring a delay in getting patches from their service. There are several online distributors..each with their own special deal..some you get maps, some you get whole civs, like babylon. Shop wisely..or better yet just download the demo..
On my second night of Civ V now. Last night I sat down at 6 pm and panicked when I saw the clock was suddenly 4 am.

I hate this game. In a good way, though.
I've ordered Civ 5, should receive in a couple of days. I can't wait, the screenshots look amazing and as you said, the combat system has been greatly improved.
My opinions so far:

- Hex tiles are awesome.
- Stronger, more expensive units that don't stack make caring about terrain and such really interesting.
- The old culture system was boring as hell. The new one is a lot more interesting.
- The removal of religion is sorely missed.
- The new tech tree plays better, but does a much poorer job of representing reality. Biology gives you oil wells? WTF.
- Civ-wide happiness makes playing the trading for resources game much more fun.
- Side-quests, like hunting barbarians, helping city states, and acquiring desired resources make the "All units do nothing while I grow and research" turns more interesting.
- Japan's AI is arrogant and really should pay more attention to technology if they want to win. You aren't going to takeover the world with musketmen in 1920.

My final verdict: Civ V is a better game, but Civ IV provides a better representation of human history.

That said, they could add almost everything Civ IV has in through expansion packs. If they do that, well, I'm going to need more coffee.

I'm going to venture a guess that you didn't read the previous post. :)
once the honeymoon period is over..the problems start to stick out..ever try to take a city on an isthmus?

Oh no! Cities on an isthmus are difficult to attack! What a serious, serious flaw for a strategy game. How could the developers have let such a feature in the game which enables players to build cities at strategically important locations? That's like cheating or something.

/sarcasm off
Isthmuses are harder to take, by design ;) It just means that you need a decently sized navy to bombard the city from the water as well as bringing units to take it. It's not actually as hard as you make it sound, it just requires a modicum of strategy besides "stack all your biggest units".
@ Joesph
"My final verdict: Civ V is a better game, but Civ IV provides a better representation of human history."

Yeah, well that makes it a no buy for me...

sigh I just get tired of games that rehash old content / ideas with new graphics
I've spent 8 hours with it now since Saturday. That alone should tell you that it's a good game.

I first just played a game on the easy mode and won without problems. Tried a new game yesterday at the normal difficulty and got my ass kicked within two hours. Gold & research in the negative, unhappy citizens and a neighbor with an army thrice mine... I'll just have to retry it.

So far the only thing I have been missing from Civ 4 is religion. It was so much fun to found a new religion and spreading it to your neighbors. I do concur that religion might have been too powerful. It split up diplomacy in "my buddies with my religion" and all the rest.

@Oscar. Managing big empires goes fine. You just have to automate more, automating your workers saves you a lot of time.
Love Civ. Have loved it since its first version. I love that it lets you micromanage down to great detail. What fun is taking over the world if you can't micromanage the whole process. Bwahahahahahaha.
And a definite thumbs up to hex tiles.
I was a Civ II addict. But Civ III and IV dumbed down gameplay so much, it turned me off the whole offering. New graphics mean nothing to me.

Does Civ V at least let you pick which civilizations you go against? Can you pre-set barbarian incursion levels?
Well... I bought it. Sure, lots of things are different and the end game still takes ages. But wow, was I yanked back ten years. And 15!

Went to bed 4.15 Monday night (Tuesday morning?) without finishing the first game (standard map). Up less than two hours later when the kids woke up. Decided that wasn't a great idea. Gave it a rest for a day. Decided to finish the game last night. Really, just a couple of turns left – Rome was on its knees after all. Bed 2.30. Now I'm tired. :)

I'm happy for the new "take all capitals" feature though! Saved me a lot of time last night!
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